Mentoring Academy

Community Subscriber

Oakland, CA

Private School
25 students
Email: info [at] MentoringAcademy.orgPhone:  (510) 400 7696
5951 College Avenue, Oakland, CA 94618

Mentoring Academy is a small, independent, college preparatory high school, that meets the unique needs of each individual student.

Along with our regular academic program, we also offer three summer programs to any high school student: Credit Recovery, Summer School, and Bridge Camp. Our Bridge Camp is open to any 8th grader entering the 9th grade who desires to learn tools to assist in their success in high school. 

Mentoring Academy has reached maximum capacity for the 2016-2017 Academic Year. A waitlist has formed and families are welcome to still apply. Others are encouraged to apply for the 2017-2018 Academic Year. 

Parent Questions

Mentoring Academy in Oakland(4 responses)
Struggling 10th grader(5 responses)

Parent Reviews

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My 2E son was not being successful in a typical school setting so when a respected doctor mentioned John Muster and Mentoring Academy we thought we'd check it out. This was a very big deal for us. I hadn't worked in 18 years, and would need to go back to work to make this work for our family. Because we live in the East Bay, our 15 y/o son would have to take the bus, then BART to get there every day. We in the East Bay are not used to giving our kids that long a leash.

I'm so happy we made that decision. Almost immediately, the entire family saw a huge change.  He is a happier person and treats everyone in the family much better. The parent child relationship also grew as we no longer had to be on him to get his homework done. The mentors/educators designed his curriculum so that it would be a good fit for him and let him go at his pace. They made sure he met the requirements to get into good colleges and helped him with the application process. 

They do so many different things. They go on on field trips close to home as well as really great trips each year where the students learn so much more than academics. In the 2 1/2 years my son was there, they went to DC, Poland and Costa Rica. It is an all around education at Mentoring.

I credit Mentoring Academy and the staff there for my son being able to attend college out of state in a setting that fits him.  Go see for yourself the magic of Mentoring and see if it is a good fit for your child. Hands down the best decision we've made as a family, worth every penny!

We love Mentoring Academy. It's truly amazing what it's done for my son & our family. My son is now a senior, engaged in school, friends, family & sports; and will be going off to college next fall.  

But for the last 3 years - the dark days - we didn't know if he was going to finish high school, let alone go to college. Pre-dark days, my son was a sweet, smart, active normal kid. He had a stellar time in middle school, did well academically, socially, was playing on 6 sports teams. But the moment he started HS, he became a dark sullen kid who couldn't be trusted. Some of the behavior was normal adolescence. I have an older child, so was prepared. The transition from childhood to adulthood is a completely wacky, wild, bumpy, funny, smelly, mind alternating time.

After my son's disastrous freshman year, I was ready to change schools & talked to every school in the 50 mile radius.  After I talked to John at Mentoring, I knew it was the place.

Getting my son to agree (& my ex-husband) was a different matter. My son didn't want to change schools, let alone visit. This first time we planned a visit, he refused to get out of the car. He said "I don't have anything in common with the kids at Mentoring. They're all those super smart nerdy kids & they don't have any sports." But with failing classes and lying, the current situation/school wasn't working. After a long (almost 2 yr) complicated process, my son started Mentoring mid-year junior year.

The first 2 weeks at Mentoring it was a struggle to get my son to the school. John was there every step & mis-step. After the first month, something clicked. It was shocking how quickly things improved. My son started talking about school, he started playing sports again. He went from a 1.7 GPA to 3.0 after the first semester. But grades are only part of the story. He feels good about himself & enjoys learning/school again. Mentoring is a special safe place. Each student is seen, heard & supported. And according to my son, "the have amazing smart teachers." He has great respect for John & his teachers. The need for trusted respected adults (besides parents) during adolescence can not be underestimate. It's an important component for their development. My son is still very close & hangs with friends from his former HS AND he enjoys his time at Mentoring.

Mentoring is doing something right, not just for the super smart student, or the student who doesn't fit in. It's a great school (period). My son is a typical teen who plays sports & has a large circle of friends. But a large HS was distracting.  At Mentoring, there's not discipline for students not doing work.  Because the students are ALL engaged learners. There's a deep connection between teacher/staff and students. It's more than a school, it's a community.

Other very important pluses: 1) Homework is done at Mentoring. No more nagging to do homework. Now I talk with my son about other things besides homework. 2) A college advisor works with students on the entire college application process. Parent participation is minimal. She helps with the selection process, personal statements, financial options, everything! This is worth the price of admission alone. Trust me. The process is completely differently from our college days. Friends of mine have hired college advisors to work with their children, costing several thousands of dollar. 


The Mentoring Academy has been a blessing for my son.  He's a young man who is very bright but learns differently than most.  Because he is 'outside of the box', the traditional method used by most schools (especially public) caused him to fall behind.  Fortunately my wife, after an exhaustive search, found The Mentoring Academy.  From the Headmaster, John Muster, to all of the Mentors (they are not just teachers), this High School has allowed my son to learn in a way that suits his unique needs.  Most importantly, the low ratio of 'mentors' to students helps to insure each student gets the individualized attention they require.  I would recommend this school to any parent who has a student struggling to learn via a traditional approach.  It may not be for everyone but it is certainly worth exploring (try a 'shadow day' for your child and have them help you decide).  As an amazing added bonus, the school takes a yearly field trip (the last two years trips have been to Costa Rica and Poland), which provides a unique opportunity to learn from a more worldly perspective outside of the classroom.

After enrolling our son in two private high schools in two years, we were consistently told that our son was bright and well-behaved, but undisciplined in his work habits. No matter how hard we worked with him to accommodate the school's expectations, we found that our efforts were not reciprocated by the schools. So, it was like a ray of light when we found the Mentoring Academy. From the first time we walked into the school for the interview with the headmaster, it was clear that the school was all about the student, because the headmaster spoke with our son for the most part of it, and asked him insightful questions. But when he said that he key to a successful teacher/student relationship is when the teacher determines that their time is worth investing in the student, I knew we found the right place. Mentoring Academy is a small school that reminds me of a schoolhouse. It is a wonderful community of smart and engaging students, and enthusiastic and caring teachers. Because the school is very small, students get the individual attention they need in weaker subjects, and the chance to blaze through the subject in which they excel. The result is a thorough knowledge of all subjects to graduate high school. They are prepared to enter most colleges, if not all, of their choice. In addition, the school plans many wonderful excursions to places both near and far (as in abroad), and there are plenty of opportunities for students to pursue their interests in independent projects and volunteering, and get credit for them as well. Lastly, school hours run from 9:00AM to 5:30PM, so almost all homework is completed at school, leaving the student free to pursue personal interests when outside of school. As a parents, our biggest fear was after such negative experiences at the previous schools, he would become indifferent to school. However, Mentoring Academy, because of how the school is organized, allows him to pursue his interests as far as he wants to take them. It has been such a joy to see our son bloom again with confidence and curiosity about the world. We knew it was always there, but it was the great teachers and the relationships developed at the Mentoring Academy that was able to coax it out and get him to flourish.

Our child has been at Mentoring for three years now. We have a very bright kid who just couldn't fit in at school; high test scores, but failing. We were in two separate highly rated school districts but still could not find the right learning environment.

Mentoring Academy saved our child. From a sulky teenager who hated school to an engaged kid.

John Muster gets to know each student, discovering their unique qualities to bring out the learner in each student. He has picked equally caring and intellectually stimulating teachers who engage students. Mentoring Academy fits teaching and education to the student.

Students from 8th grade to 12th, learn in small groups and through online accredited programs. They are in school from 9 to 5:30. All work is completed during those hours; leaving students with free time in the evenings and weekends.

Mentoring is a exceptional school providing a unique learning environment.

Archived Reviews: 

Dec 2015

Re: Unmotivated, unfocused bright 16 yr old boy who hates cookie-cutter school

Hi, have you considered alternative schools? In particular, Mentoring academy is great for bright intense kids. Very warm environment, engaged teachers and students. My son desperately wanted to go there (we didn't send him there because we thought he should try a more standard school--however, Mentoring works at teaching students to thrive in standard schools as well, so maybe we were wrong about that!). We love the school. Maybe go to an open house, if they are still having any, and see if your son likes it? I had to drag my son to the open house and then I couldn't get him to's a wonderful place. My impression is that people either find it a good match or not rather quickly. He could likely start right away too as they have the kids working at their own speeds (which is why some of the kids are working well into college level). I hope it works out for you!! another parent of a different sort of kid

After two years at a very stressful public high school where our son was putting in decent effort but not succeeding, we moved him to the Mentoring Academy in Rockridge. He loves it - It’s ''200% better'' according to him. It is a game changer and is inspiring him in many areas of learning. They have a longer school day and mostly zero homework as a tradeoff for the longer day. The no homework policy was something my family needed in our life as the homework battle was damaging our relationships. He has only been there a few months, and it may not be as academic as where he was, but we feel thankful to have found him a school that is the right fit for him. Kim

Oct 2013

Re: Private high school for disorganized smart kid
We had a great experience with the Mentoring Academy after a disastrous experience with a small private school. Mentoring provides a self-paced, individualized learning experience. The director, John Muster, is a caring and engaged individual. He will spend significant time and energy getting to know your child and designing a program that is a good fit. He looks at the whole child - not just the academic piece. Mentoring is an all-day school with little to no homework (schoolwork is done during school hours, 9-5). This is a wonderful relief if you and your child are tired of homework dance. Hope this helps. MM

Dec 2012

Mentoring Academy is a new school, headed by John Muster, the former head at Maybeck High School. Our son has been very happy there this year. He is able to pursue classes that really engage him -- he is taking accredited high school classes as well as two college classes. The classes at Mentoring are a combination of on-line classes and classes taught at school. The students are at school from 9-5:30, and do all their work at school and have evenings and weekends without any homework, which we find to work really well. We have known John Muster for five years (both our children were students at Maybeck). He has a great rapport with students and encourages their intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. I think this school would work well for a lot of different kinds of students--certainly for bright, outside of the box kids, but also for students who are still figuring out what their passions are. The Mentoring environment encourages students to take the good kinds of risks--to try new kinds of classes and to learn about new things, in a supportive environment. Parent of a Mentoring Academy Student

Dec 2012

John Muster created Mentoring Academy with a vision of "providing the most effective, vibrant, human, compelling, and engaging learning environment possible." This vision exactly reflects what John provided to our son as his mentor/independent study English teacher in the year leading up to the launch of Mentoring Academy in the fall of 2012. John is an amazing educator. I highly recommend that you check out Mentoring Academy for your child's High School education. It is conveniently located near Rockridge BART on College Avenue.

Our Story: John Muster was head teacher at Maybeck High School when we first met him several years ago. We were looking for a High School in the Berkeley area that would appropriately accommodate our very bright, but extremely dyslexic son. John and our son really hit it off when they met, and though our son was not a good fit for Maybeck, John became his private tutor (for lack of a better word) for over a year as a result of their meeting. I would describe John's approach to teaching as diagnostic (what mastery is needed?), compassionate and inspiring. Our son was especially struggling with his tenth grade English class, so John helped us arrange for our son to complete the year long course with him as independent study. John was able to capture our son's interest by identifying topics he'd be excited to read and write about, and help him master a process for writing academic papers that he could carry forward to all his classes. John ultimately had our son give presentations at his school based on his papers to build other teachers' awareness of his capabilities, as well as his self esteem.

Working with John has truly transformed our son's academic life. With the launch of Mentoring Academy, your High School student now has the awesome possibility of working with John and his colleagues themselves. Rosanne

Dec 2012

I have a son who is in the 11th grade and who is both dyslexic and dysgraphic. Over the years he has had extensive tutoring for language based skills. John Muster the head of Mentoring academy worked with my son for several months and the results of his tutoring have been astonishing. Previously, my son struggled to complete his writing assignments and he can now complete them without significant help. His writing grades have significantly improved from a D to a B. I know that my sons improvement is due to the help that was provided to him by John. From talking with John, I know he has a very special approach to teaching. I believe it starts with getting to know the student as a person and trying to identify the students strengths and weaknesses. John then puts together a tutoring program for that student. In my conversations with John, I also know that he is continually thinking about the student and what can be done to better serve the student. John is very personable and is very good at engaging the student in the work. If my son was just starting high school, the Mentoring Academy and John Muster would be the first on my list of schools. wjb

Nov 2012

We have a middle schooler who will be applying to high school in a few years, and we are wondering what schools might be a good fit for him down the line. We're not convinced a hard core college prep school is the best route, but we might be wrong. We're guessing he'll be an engineering or designing sort of person eventually, he's definitely geek/nerd type and creative (and perhaps alternative), but not a model student! We are interested in hearing from parents who have kids like this who are in high school now--what schools work or don't work (and why), and perhaps a bit about your kid(s) to get a sense if their experiences might be something we might encounter as well. Thank you very much. anon

My son is a first year student at the Mentoring Academy, a new high school in Rockridge. Coursework is individualized and self-paced, with plenty of opportunity to work one on one with mentor-teachers. It's new, but I'd encourage you to check it out. Students there are the kind of kids who build things in their spare time--and they have spare time b/c there is a long school day but no homework. Definitely a good place for bright, creative kids who may not do as well in more traditional classroom settings. Mentoring Academy is college preparatory, but there's far less pressure than at most high schools. Happy Mentoring Academy Parent

Nov 2012

Re: Highly gifted ADHD student - which high school?

We have experience with both Tilden Prep and Mentoring Academy. Both schools are good at what they do but they work on very different models.

Our oldest child attended Tilden for one year, getting individual instruction from teachers. The directors are both knowledgeable in the education field, and we found the teachers to mostly be good. They are well-prepared in the topics they teach but they are not necessarily trained as teachers. The school seems to work well for students who are motivated and are able to get work done independently. It also allows students who are struggling with a subject to go at a slower pace. Because the classes are one-on-one it can get expensive.

Our younger child attends the new Mentoring Academy. The students take a mix of Mentoring classes and on-line classes. The classes are accredited and meet UC requirements. A wide range of classes is available and students who are ready for more challenging classes take college-level classes. They are at school from 9-5:30, working on their classes, getting individual tutoring, or working with other students on projects. They also participate in various social events. They complete all their work at school and don't have homework. Our child attended a private high school for two years and was a good student, but somewhat bored. At Mentoring he is taking classes that really interest him. The director, John Muster, is a gifted educator. He was well-respected by parents and students as the head of Maybeck High School. He has an amazing rapport with the students. At Mentoring he works closely with the students to make sure that they get the right classes and are actively engaged in their own educations. Mentoring Academy is new and still very small, but I imagine it will grow quickly as the word gets out, and there are plans to add art and other classes. It has been exciting to see our son so engaged in his classes. Even though he does not have homework he sometimes works at home because he is so interested in what he is doing. A Berkeley Parent

Each of the three schools mentioned has strong and effective solutions to meeting the needs of students. All three provide self-paced instruction. This posting is a brief explanation of the features of Mentoring Academy because there are some important differences. Students are expected to be at Mentoring Academy from 9 to 5:30 each day to meet with teacher-mentors, engage in projects with other students, participate in discussions and to complete their individual work. We do not send students home with homework, rather expect them to complete all work with the support and guidance of the mentors on staff and engaged with them during the school day. Evenings are for families, following personal interests, and resting in preparation for the next day. Social, travel, all school and joint events provide for a rich interpersonal life as well as a strong academic environment. Every student is placed at their appropriate level whether it be Advanced Calculus, AP courses, or modules that assist in mastering skills missed in earlier schooling. All courses are mastery, project, self-paced, mentored and engaging. A-G approved courses. The approach is to support individual student mastery, accepting the fact that no two students are alike. John Muster, Director of Mentoring Acadcemy

Thanks to all respondents. Our conclusions: about Mentoring Academy, John Muster: the program is small and new. We visited and met twice with John. Significantly, my son wanted to transfer there after meeting and feeling extremely comfortable with John and the students. I found John's engagement with my son and the other kids to be excellent -- respectful, insightful, and encouraging a reflective and investigative attitude. Different than Tilden in that although each studies on his own, students are on site all day, interacting during breaks, with John and the tutors. We decided not to enroll there, and not for reasons of cost -- it is actually sliding scale. We decided for BISP instead to facilitate our kid's sustained participation in BHS classes and groups he is already involved in.

Aug 2012

I have two older teenagers, both of whom are gifted, yet each with rather different learning styles and both of whom have had John Muster, the founder of the Mentoring Academy, as both a teacher and advisor. I can easily say that he is an exceptional educator who truly knows and connects with young people and is a brilliant and caring man as well. (Believe me, the kids can tell!) Had this school been available a few years back, I would have loved to have sent my kids to Mentoring Academy for their high school education! Julie '